Not enough senators vote so texting while driving ban dies; see who voted and who didn't

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX – The legislature has been debating the no-texting-while-driving ban for years and it was widely expected to pass this year but it failed on Tuesday because a lot of senators did not show up to vote.

Opponents of the texting-behind-the-wheel ban say it is unnecessary since police can stop anyone driving recklessly but supporters, like AAA, want the law on the books.

Linda Gorman, with AAA, says, "We want texting while driving to be illegal just as other dangerous behavior is illegal."

AAA was not alone lobbying the state legislature to get a texting ban passed. Other supporters include several Arizona hospitals and doctors groups plus law enforcement groups including Phoenix police and the Department of Public Safety.

Insurance groups also lobbied for the texting ban and even Sprint and Verizon signed onto it. Several of those high-power lobbying groups were shocked when the texting bill failed in the Senate but the ban did not fail from lack of support in the Senate. It failed from lack of senators in the room.

Senator Linda Lopez, who supports the ban, explains, “There weren’t enough members. It was an 11-11 vote. A lot of folks had taken off. I don’t think they realized what was going to happen."

Senator Lopez and others scrambled to find more votes. She admits, “I was running around, calling, going into office, I had pages out trying to find folks."

Eight senators ended up not voting and the texting while driving ban died in an 11-11 tie.

Gorman tells 3TV, "The Senate failed those people today." Senators say it is not totally dead yet. The rules allow them to bring it up again and, if they do, they will make sure everyone knows a vote is coming up.